University Librarian Steven Mandeville-Gamble by the Rivera Library arches
April 17, 2020

Since mid-March 2020, the world has changed in ways that none of us could have predicted. I wanted to share with you some things the UCR Library is doing to help UCR not only survive the COVID-19 closure, but to thrive.

Late afternoon on Friday, March 13, we got the County of Riverside Public Health Officer’s order to shut down the campus by Monday, March 16. We had only two days to switch to working, conducting all exams, and teaching remotely.

We adapted work so that all staff could work virtually from home within a few days. Many library staff immediately engaged with faculty and XCITE (Exploration Center for Innovative Teaching and Engagement) to help convert Spring Quarter 2020 from in-person classes to remote instruction with one week. Normally, it takes six months or more to convert a single class to a remote modality. UCR converted more than 3,000 courses in just two weeks' time.

As part of this effort, a number of library staff members are close captioning course materials in video format, to ensure that all students have equitable access to the online course content, regardless of differing abilities in vision or hearing.

Our Teaching and Learning librarians have been helping faculty convert their courses to remote teaching, and actively converting the library's own information literacy sessions to online formats, which means we can continue to support faculty in their teaching mission nearly as seamlessly as we did with in-person courses. That apparent seamlessness hides the enormous amount of work being done behind the scenes by dedicated librarians and staff to make this happen.

Since staff can no longer routinely access the library’s buildings, you might wonder how we can provide access to our books without going into the stacks. For more than a decade, the UC Libraries have been working on a system-wide project to digitize our vast print holdings. The digital copies created by this long-term project are held by the HathiTrust, which has agreed to open up the copyrighted materials to UCR faculty, students, and staff for any print titles we currently own. This access went into effect on April 10, providing our stakeholders access to more than 50% of our book titles. Then on April 13, HathiTrust opened up all books in the trust that correspond to print titles owned by any UC to all UC affiliates . As a result, UCR faculty, students, and staff now have access to more than 10 million books online. For more information, read this article.

That is in addition to the extensive collection of online books that we have acquired over the years.

Additionally, for any titles not currently in the HathiTrust, we are purchasing electronic copies books of any titles that UCR students or faculty need, so long as an e-book version is available.

This means that, for most people who use our collections, access to our content is continuing relatively seamlessly, even though online access requires a few extra steps for end-users.

Finally, our Creat’R Lab staff are using our 3D printers to make a key part needed to build face shields for the dedicated Inland Empire doctors, nurses, and other health care providers treating COVID-19 patients. These pieces will be delivered to the Riverside Community Hospital, who will assemble the face shields for their staff. It the UCR Library’s small, direct contribution to support the medical personnel treating people affected by the virus.

If you have any questions about what the UCR Library and its dedicated staff are doing to help keep the university moving forward, please do not hesitate to let us know.


Steve​n Mandeville-Gamble

University Library, UC Riverside